Well it should be a dandy. According to Kenpom.com's Fan Match, this has the best probability of being the game to watch tonight. So set your dials to the Big 12 Network. No this is not on ESPN, as one would easily assume when you have a top-15 matchup.
There is a women's basketball game tonight at the Lloyd Noble Center at 7pm and the men's basketball game starts at 8pm, so I would be curious to see how many people leave the LNC early so they can catch the men's game on TV.
Here are a few interesting notes to mull over while you wait for the game:
- Is Mizzou the "fastest 40 minutes in basketball"? That is an interesting question. Using the adjusted tempo statistic on the KenPom scouting report, they are well above the NCAA average, but are only 14th in the nation (not the fastest). Notable teams ahead of them in this statistic: VMI, UNC, South Carolina, Washington, Wake Forest, Providence and Texas Tech. Yes, that Texas Tech.
When we are on offense: expect a pressuring, man-to-man defense. Their steal% (KenPom) is 3rd best in the country. Their turnover% is 7th best nationally. Since they try to run up and down the floor and press, their bench gets about 39% of the minutes (22nd nationally). We are going to need to slow down the ball and be efficient with our passing. This means our guards will really need to step up. AJ and Willie will be key. If our guards play smart, that should open up some opportunities for Pattillo and the Griffins to punish Mizzou with some easy baskets. I'm worried about Leary just because he gets trapped easily and he doesn't have the height to be able to pass smartly out of the trap.
- Things To Take Advantage Of: While Mizzou boasts good defensive statistics overall, there are a couple of weaknesses. They allow a lot of offensive rebounds for their opponents. We have a size advantage down low. This needs to be exploited and even our bench players like Wright and Pattillo need to be solid on the offensive glass. They also give up a lot of free throw attemps relative to field goal attempts, so their aggressive defense fouls a fair amount. This means we can't settle for the jumpshot all the time, and we need to slash to the rim.
- Mizzou's Other Weaknesses: Believe it or not, we found a team that is worse at shooting free throws than OU. Their percentage (67%) is good for 235th nationally. The majority of their points come off 2 pointers. Their losses seem to come against teams who have talented guards who step up and take them out of their comfort zone (creating a lot of turnovers, while not turning the ball over very much).
Our team should be back at full strength. It's time to see what they can do, and this time we won't have any excuses if we lose. Also, we're basically playing for a #1 seed in the Big Dance, as those are usually 0, 1, 2, or 3 loss teams, whereas #2 seeds tend to have 4 or 5 losses. It's a big game, so tune in, root hard, and Boomer Sooner!